A junior partner in Armenia’s governing coalition reaffirmed on Thursday its threats to walk out of Yerevan’s municipal council if its pro-presidential majority and Mayor Gagik Beglarian continue to run the city “single-handedly.”
The Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), the country’s second pro-establishment force, issued such a warning after President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK) pushed through a controversial legal amendment through the council over its objections on Wednesday. The amendment lowered from 33 to 17 the minimum number of councilors allowing the assembly to make a quorum.
Arman Vartanian, the leader of the BHK faction in the 65-member Council of Elders, described that as the latest example of the HHK ignoring the opinion of its coalition partner in municipal affairs. He said the party led by businessman Gagik Tsarukian will give up its 17 council seats if the Republicans carry on with their “crude political approach.”
“We have certainly talked to Mr. Tsarukian about these issues,” Vartanian told RFE/RL. “Mr. Tsarukian’s position is that we should work as effectively as possible, try to reach common denominators with our partners but if they don’t attempt to understand that adequately, then we will make a decision.
“That is, we will ask the party to discuss the issue of our working or not working [in the council.] None of us is clinging to their mandates and posts.”
The leader of the 35-strong HHK faction in the Yerevan legislature insisted earlier on Thursday that Tsarukian’s party has no “well-founded grounds” to quit the council. “At least our faction has given them no reason to do that. Nor has the mayor,” Derenik Dumanian told a news conference.
“The BHK is our coalition partner, and I think that we will remain coalition partners until the next parliamentary elections,” said Dumanian.
The council’s credibility and legitimacy was already damaged by the opposition Armenian National Congress’s decision to spurn the remaining 13 mandates allotted to it as a result of the May 31 elections. The opposition bloc rejected the official vote results as fraudulent.